To lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than you use. Berries are good foods for healthy weight loss. These nutritious fruits are high in antioxidants and other nutrients. Yet they are low in “energy density,” or concentrated calories, to help you feel full and satisfied after eating. Do not to sprinkle sugar on your berries, or serve them over shortcake topped with ice cream. That would be dessert, not diet fare.
To lose weight, MayoClinic.com encourages choosing foods with lower energy density – more food, essentially, with fewer calories. The goal when dieting is to eat a greater volume of food that's lower in calories to help you feel fuller with fewer calories. Foods that are high in water and fiber content but low in fat -- such as berries — are low-energy-dense foods, just what MayoClinic.com recommends. Just 1 teaspoon of butter, for example, contains about the same calories as 1/2 cup of blackberries, blueberries or sliced strawberries, between 30 and 40.
Fresh berries, from blueberries to raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, have high water content. Most fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of water, which creates weight, volume and juiciness but adds no calories. Foods high in water can contribute significantly to a sense of fullness after eating. In research cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating foods that had been prepared by incorporating more water greatly increased the sense of being full after eating and decreased the calories eaten. Drinking a glass of water with the same food — but with no extra water incorporated into the food — had no effect on feeling full or calories consumed.
Berries are also full of fiber – about 4 grams per 1/2 cup serving for blackberries and raspberries, and half that for blueberries, cranberries and strawberries. High-fiber foods help pump up the volume, yes, but they also slow down digestion because fiber takes longer to digest, helping you feel fuller longer on relatively few calories. According to the CDC, research indicates that eating fruits whole — with their natural fiber — creates greater feelings of fullness than consuming either fruit purée or juice.
Berries are very high in antioxidants, natural substances in food that fight oxidation, a natural process associated with cancer, heart disease and aging during which cells can be damaged. Some berries — black raspberries, red raspberries, boysenberries, Marionberries and strawberries — are super-antioxidant foods with high ORAC values, or oxygen radical absorbance capacity. All dark-colored berries are also high in ellagic acid, which has been shown to kill some cancer cells. Berries are also high in vitamin C.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Can Eating Fruits and Vegetables Help People to Manage Their Weight?; October 2007
- MayoClinic.com; Energy Density and Weight Loss: Feel Full on Fewer Calories; January 2011
- University of Missouri Extension; Strawberries--Tasty Nutrition; Susan Mills-Gray; April 2010
- Better Nutrition magazine; "Berries Big on Antioxidants"; August 2001
- Colorado State University Extension; Antioxidants in Fruit--Naturally Good for You and Tasty, Too; Shirley Perryman; August 2011
- Dr. Atkins' Carbohydrate Gram Counter; Robert C. Atkins, M.D.; M. Evans & Co., New York; 2002